Roger Kelley's Reports--Fiji, 2003

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Death, Burial, Cremation Records

Searches and reports by Roger Kelley, a retired police officer who went on the second bones search in 2003. We thought that someone who had the bones might have sent them to be buried or cremated through ordinary channels. As far as we can tell, this is not what happened.

Death Records

The woman in the Death Records office searched all unknowns for us from 1941 to 1947 (the end of Hoodless' time at CMS/FSM). None were candidates for a skeleton from Gardner/Nikumaroro. But it may well be that the medical school could dispose of the bones without obtaining a death certificate.

Burial and Cremation Records

Bureau of Prison Records - first report

Roger searched all the burial records from 1935 to 1970, all of the cremation records from 1942 through 1990, and examined every entry in the index that he and the friendly constable could think of.

Burial and cremation records are maintained at:
Walu Bay Prison
Administration Building
Queens Road, Suva
Telephone: 331-4599

Officer in Charge: Sergeant Joeli Lau.

Sergeant Lau indicated that all burials and cremations are licensed by the Bureau of Prisons. The BP maintains records of all transactions and issues licenses at Walu Bay Prison. The BP is also charged with the care and maintenance of cemeteries.

There are five cemeteries in the greater Suva area. They are:

1. Old Suva, located at the intersection of Queens Road and Tamavua Road, Suva.

2. New Suva, located on Reservoir Road, below Chinese Cemetery, Suva.

3. Chinese Cemetery, located on Reservoir Road between New Suva and Military Cemetery.

4. Military Cemetery, located on Reservoir Road above Chinese Cemetery, Suva.

5. Indian Cemetery located on Fletcher Road, Suva.

Sergeant Lau informed me that during the time period in question, 1942 -1950, all burials were made in Old Suva Cemetery. Human remains, such as the Gardner bones, would require a license for burial or cremation and would be buried in Old Suva Cemetery.

The burial and cremations records consist of hand written ledgers contain 17 categories of data:

1. Date
2. Hour of burial.
3. Number of grave.
4. Number of internment for year.
5. Witness or Minister.
6. Name (person buried or cremated).
7. Sex.
9. Age.
10. Nationality.
11. Place of death.
12. Section of Cemetery in which interred.
13. Person in charge of funeral.
14. Description of grave.
15. Memorials.
16. Maintenance.
17. Remarks.

The ledger I inspected contained records from 1933 through 1968.

Starting with the first entry in January, 1942, I searched each page through December, 1950. I searched a total of 30 pages with 46 entries on each page.

During my search I compared data in each category with data in other categories attempting to discover any information which might suggest the identity of the bones or involvement of any of the individuals TIGHAR has identified.

My search met with negative results. I repeated my search a second time and again met with negative results.

For future reference, I took four digital photographs of all categories in the ledger and various entries within those categories.

Records 01.jpg Records 02.jpg Records 03.jpg Records 04.jpg

As I departed, Sergeant Lau indicated that he would be pleased to assist TIGHAR members in the future.

Bureau of Prison Records - second report

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

On Tuesday, June 3, 2003, I returned to the cremation and burial records at Walu Bay Prison with the intention of expanding the search perimeters to include any cremation or burial from 1939 to the present which might be of interest to TIGHAR.

The search of records proceeded at a rapid pace due to the assistance of Constable Taniela Masirewa. Taniela is Fijian for Daniel and Marirewa prefers to be addressed as "Dan."

Masirewa described the method used to make the hand entries. First, the Bureau of Prisons issues a burial or cremation permit and collects the proper fee. The B of P retains one carbon copy which is filed under the month issued. Second, once each month, a clerk or other appointed person arranges the permits in chronological order. The information contained on the permit is then entered by hand in the master ledgers. The master ledgers provide the only permanent record of cremations and burials. There are no electronic records.

Masirewa produced cross references which included an alpha index, an index by grave number and an individual chronological index for cremations. Mention of the various cross reference ledgers had been omitted by Sergeant Lau.

The first search involved any conceivable name under which the Gardner bones might have been buried or cremated. The search of the alpha index met with negative results.

My next search returned to the chronological listing of burials from January 1, 1951 to the last entries dated April of 2003.

Again, I compared data in each category with data in other categories attempting to identify the Gardner bones. Special attention was paid to the years following TIGHARs first expedition to Nikumaroro which staged in Suva in 1989.

I completed my search today at approximately 11:55 hrs.

Unfortunately, the search again met with negative results.

Police Evidence Warehouse

They had four boxes of bones. All were for current murder investigations. They do not have evidence dating back to the 1940s.

From Roger: Thursday, June 5, 2003, 14:00 hrs.

I spoke with Mr. Vakacegu in his office. Mr. Vakacegu is the Forensic Investigator, Fiji Police Forces. He indicated he had provoked a search of the Fiji Police Evidence Locker for any bones which were unidentified.

Vakacegu stated that the Fiji Police are presently in possession of four boxes of bones. Each box contains the remains of one person. All of the remains have been identified and are being held for evidence purposes. The custodian of evidence has no recollection of human remains, or bones, which were not eventually identified.

Mr. Vakacegu renewed his promise to remain alert for any information which may assist in TIGHAR's investigation.

An anonymous cremation (1982)

  • Name of interred: <none noted>
  • Date: 7-7-82
  • HR Burial: 1230
  • Grave #: C60
  • # for year: 60
  • Sex: <none noted>
  • Age: <none noted>
  • Nationality: Indian
  • Place of death: C.W.M.H.
  • Person in charge of burial: Chandrika Prasad